Prioritising Global Conservation Efforts

New research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B indicates that agricultural expansion and population growth must be incorporated into prioritising conservation efforts for biodiversity ‘hotspots‘, (areas of exceptionally high biological diversity).

Previous research has suggested that global conservation priorities should be set according to biodiversity hotspots alone, whereas other research has identified weaknesses in the ‘hotspots‘ approach for prioritising conservation effort, such as the incronguence of endemism and threat levels with biodiversity hotspots.

The new research takes into consideration future global change as a means of prioritising conservation effort. The published research exposed the existing global network of protected areas to potential future threats such as climate and land-use change using the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment criterion and looked at the threats against conservation value and the ability of biogeographic and geopolitical regions to take measures against forecasted change.

The research indicated that developing tropical nations with few resources for conservation but high levels of biological diversity such as Indonesia and Madagascar are most at risk in the future, and should be the focal points of global conservation efforts. Africa is predicted to face major land-use change in the future, contains areas of high biodiversity and may lack the capacity to cope with threats to biodiversity.

The authors recognise the need to create a network of new reserves in places that are likely to be threatened in the near future, to stand the best chance of both mitigating the effects of climate change and conserving biodiversity.

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